Aston Villa are a proud and historic football club. By getting to Wembley, they have become the first English team to contest a major cup final in 14 different decades. There’s only one club in this final who’ve won a European Cup, and it isn’t Manchester City.
Villa haven’t got a prayer though, have they?
The odds certainly suggest that, with Dean Smith’s side a whopping 17/1 to win the match in 90 minutes, and 10/1 to lift the cup somehow. For context, the Villans’ odds of winning in normal time are far longer than League Two Bradford City were when playing Swansea in 2013 (7/1).
Birmingham were only around 6/1 when they caused an upset by beating Arsenal in 2011. And that was Arsenal, what did you expect? That wasn’t just the last upset in the final, it was the last time the pre-match favourites didn’t win.
Perhaps most pertinently, Watford were 11/1 in last year’s FA Cup final and got walloped 6-0 for their trouble. Villa have to look to emulate Wigan, who surprised everybody in 2013 by beating City and surprised nobody by then being relegated.
The underdog’s record in the league this season doesn’t inspire confidence either. Going into this weekend, Aston Villa haven’t won a league game against any team currently higher than 10th in the table.
Villa also have the worst record of the ‘other 14’ teams when it comes to facing the ‘big six’. They’re the only side without a win, with their 2-2 draw at Old Trafford their sole point from eight matches.
However, in the cup they’ve beaten Wolves, Leicester and the school outing Liverpool sent in lieu of their first team. Wolves were also longer odds to win at the Etihad earlier this season than Villa are on Sunday, and they came away with a 2-0 win. If only Villa still had Adama Traore, eh?
The Villans also won the last meeting of the clubs in the League Cup, and that’s the real quiz, isn’t it? City were champions then too, though Roberto Mancini was their manager. He’s more likely to be spotted on the lash with Bobby Davro than at Wembley on Sunday.
Four of City’s seven wins against the current bottom six have been by at least four goals, so back them to win by plenty. Villa will probably get battered and might find themselves in the bottom three this weekend too. Hope you at least enjoy the day out, Holte-enders.
While I can’t see a fairytale ending for the Villa, we shouldn’t rule them out from getting on the scoresheet. Dean Smith’s side have netted in seven of their eight league matches against the big clubs this season. Granted, their one blank was at the Etihad, but they’ve had at least one clear-cut chance in every game against the top sides.
And City have often struggled to keep shut outs on the road. They’ve played five away games against the division’s bottom seven sides and conceded a total of seven goals.
Only three teams in the Premier League have scored more times from set pieces than Villa, and the last two occasions City have dropped points have seen them concede from a dead ball situation. Set plays could definitely give the underdogs a route to goal.
Jack Grealish is Villa’s top scorer this season, so you might think he’s their best hope of grabbing a goal. However, he’s only netted once against one of the big six this season, getting on the score sheet at Manchester United.
Mbwana Samatta scored at Anfield in the Champions League this season, but I think Trezeguet may be the man. He scored the goal which took Villa to Wembley, and also has two ‘big six’ goals this season, having found the net against Liverpool and Chelsea. Only John McGinn also has two against the top sides, and he’s injured.
Sergio Aguero has always enjoyed playing Villa. He has scored nine goals in his last five league starts against them, but at 4/9, there’s little value in backing the Argentine to bag a goal.
So perhaps a flutter on him to score two-or-more is a better idea? Aguero has done so three times against the Villans in the past, and could easily do so again.
Best Bets Summary
- Bet: Manchester City -2 at 5/4
- Bet: Both teams to score ‘yes’ at 11/10
- Bet: Over 2.5 goals at 4/11
- Bet: Trezeguet to score at 13/2
- Bet: Sergio Aguero to score 2 or more goals at 2/1